Chances are you have read about social media being at risk for attacks or accounts getting hacked, but why would they go to the trouble? If you have always wondered how someone can benefit from hacking your personal accounts, even more so if you’re not famous, rather than use the skills to attack a bank, you’re not the only one. That’s a common question.
We are going to provide a few reasons why hackers target social media accounts and how they benefit from it. The goal is to show just how important it is to stay protected even if you are an average Joe.
Here are the top reasons hackers attack social media.
There are many different reasons behind hacking social media accounts, and being famous is not one of the major ones, while fun is.
When the comic book artist Todd McFarlane was hacked in 2015, the attacker that gained control over his account, posted lyrics from another Canadian, Drake.
That was it, no foul, just jokes with no major harm done. The only other thing noticed was that McFarlane was no longer following Greg Capullo, a frequent collaborator. It seems to have been just for laughs.
The second biggest reason for attacking social media is forcing shares. This once happened to someone we knew – their Facebook account was taken over for the shares.
The attacker used their account to share and tag various people on their friends list with a website link leading to nude content. So far, it doesn’t seem too harmful, but the reality is that there can be more harm than people imagine.
For example, let’s assume you have a few people on your friends list interested in clicking the link to see the nude content. These people click the link, but the website is filled with viruses, Trojan horses, pages created for phishing, and malware.
All of these harmful and serious issues spawn from clicking on a single link.
The person we’re talking about was also harassed over posting spam leading to nude photos until it was confirmed he had been hacked. It can be scary when your account is controlled by some mystery person.
The next reason for social media accounts to get hacked is forcing follows. Your account may just be a piece of the puzzle in a grand scheme to hack other accounts, getting them all to follow a certain account. It’s common that these forced follows are to a fake business or brand that then uses them to spread malware using the same approach as above.
Unlike with forced shares and posts, it’s possible you never notice that you’ve been force-following until it’s too late. You may be looking at your feed one day and notice something that looks like a brand you follow, but you don’t remember following them.
Surprisingly enough, gaining social media account access for your information is the last reason.
By gaining access to your account, the attacker could simply be trying to get your password to try using it on other accounts, like bank account websites or retailers, in hopes that it’s the same. They may be trying to get personal information that you’ve hidden, such as where you work. It could even be a stalker fan club attempting to figure out your plans.
Ways to keep yourself protected…
To understand how to remain protected, you first need to understand how hackers work and do their magic. Below are a few methods that are used for social media account hacking, and ways to defend yourself from each of them.
…from brute force attacks
This method is used by hackers that get some information about you, like an email address, and use it as a tool for guessing passwords. It can even be a simple password recovery tool that has been modified for the purposes of criminal hacking.
Ensure that you’re using complex passwords that are not easily guessed based on any of your personal information. Passwords should never be commonly used words or phrases. Both upper and lower case letters should be used, along with numbers and/or symbols if allowed. It’s recommended to use at least 12 characters, but many won’t use less than 15 characters because it’s almost impossible (but not fully) to hack simply by brute force.
…from man-in-the-middle attacks
This method requires the hacker to be in the middle of the situation, for example, a conversation between your computer and a server or alternative computer. It is common for this hack to occur at public Wi-Fi hotspots, but is possible to be conducted anywhere. Because this type of hack can be impossible to detect if you’re not searching for it, you may not know it’s even occurring.
As the hacker plants himself in the middle of your conversation, the best defense is to ensure all information is encrypted. The most flexible and simplest method is to determine the best VPN provider based on your goals.
The VPN tool allows you to encrypt information transmitted from your computer to a server or another computer. This leaves the hacker with encrypted content that appears as gibberish that’s cannot be read or decoded.
…from phishing pages
Phishing pages look like any other normal page, but they are designed for getting information. Although most commonly obtained through email, phishing pages can be on social media too. The basic design is that you enter login information of a certain website, such as an online banking site, your social media account, or even shows an “urgent situation” message like “the IRS is going to garnish you, learn more.”
The number one way to secure yourself is not to trust any website. If you get an email, don’t click any links; instead, type the URL of the business manually. This will ensure you type it correctly and it’s not a hidden link. Also, as with the IRS example above, always contact the business personally prior to clicking on any links.
…from Trojan horse
Just like when the Greeks used the large Trojan horse to gain access to Troy by hiding men inside it, in modern technology, a Trojan horse refers to authorizing a download on the computer that appears to be one thing, but isn’t what it looks like. When spread through social media, it’s usually a keylogger that is able to record keystrokes.
Know what you are downloading, and where it comes from. There are websites that focus on this purpose known as “warez” sites. Finding the main source of the download is always the most important first step to downloading something. The second defense is going to be your antivirus software that has a powerful firewall, and 99% of the rest will be handled.
Social media is not just fun and games
Perhaps you just get on Facebook on occasion, or use it to stay in touch with family, or maybe you’re one of those Farmville or Pet Rescue addicts. Even if it’s simply something you do for fun or playing games, not staying protected can become a serious issue once it’s too late and a hacker gets the wrong piece of information.
If you do not take measures to protect yourself, real consequences can occur. Begin by updating passwords to more secure ones, adding some type of encryption, and don’t follow every link you’re provided with.